Motherhood, Trash, and Maggots, oh My!

My clinical psychologist friend Linda used to assure me that early childhood parenting is a time of “Survival Mode.”  How right she was!  Young children require constant attention.  Trouble is always lurking just around the corner, and if you are not vigilant at all times, they could swallow knives.  They could jump off a wall.  They could run out into the public and strip off all of their clothing, diapers and all.

This is why we moms must let some non-essential things go by the wayside, such as personal hygiene.  Sometimes, we may go one day without a shower — just put up your hair in a pony tail and add another layer of deodorant  — but two, or perhaps even three, days?  Yes, it could happen to the best of us moms.

Worse yet, I had precious little time to do simple but necessary household chores such as taking out the kitchen trash.  As long as the trash bin wasn’t completely overflowing, I would squish it down with all my might and would let another day (or days) go by before I finally tied up that little white trash bag and took it about 25 feet to the garage where we keep our trash bin.  Believe me — that is just too much time and distance for us busy moms.

Once, when I had a college student over to help me with the kids while I packed and got ready for our family vacation the next day, I was upstairs trying for the fifth time that day to step into a shower.

“Mrs. Cheng!  What is this?” she yelped from downstairs.  I sighed, then I turned off the water and got dressed again to go see what she was so panicked about.  She was examining some grains of rice crawling on the kitchen floor.

“They’re….they’re MAGGOTS!”  She exclaimed.  I took a closer look.  Yup, I had maggots climbing out of my kitchen trash bin and rolling down onto the floor.  Oh my goodness.  How did I let so much trash sit around for so long that flies would start family planning in my house?

We did the best we could gathering up the little white creepy crawlies, stuffing them back into the trash bag which we threw into the garage trash bin.  I began to sense that I was letting some important things in life slide and vowed to redouble my efforts at personal hygiene and domestic duties even as we left on our vacation the next morning.

After a wonderful week and a half in paradise, we returned home, relaxed and in post-vacation bliss.  We walked into our sunny home, and I began opening the windows to air out the place while my husband unloaded our luggage.  The kids were still peacefully asleep in the back seat.

When I went into the kitchen, I noticed that there were numerous black dots on the hardwood floor, so I bent down to see what they were.

Dead flies.

Oh my!  I must have missed a few maggots which turned into flies!  Ewwwww…

Without any nourishment from my empty trash bin, they all eventually died while we were gone and dropped like, well, flies.  We went through an entire life cycle of fruit flies, right here in my kitchen!  Fearing that the Health Department or, at the very least, Child Protective Services, would come get me, I decided to work a little harder on my home economics skills.

Today, I do take showers quite regularly.  Our kids have now become old enough to actually help out in the kitchen, sometimes even taking out the trash for me.  We have moved out of the Survival Mode and onto Teenage Mode, but that’s another story.

All I know is that I do not want to ever see maggots in our house again!

A Dog, A Bee, and Anaphylactic Shock

Me 'n Sushi

Besides our two kids, I am also a mommy to a little poodle mix named Sushi.  We got him from the local animal shelter a few years ago.  I learned last week that dogs can be deathly allergic to bees.  Here’s the story:

It was a nice, warm morning.  After I got our kids off to school, I decided that, instead of going to the gym, I would go on a walk with Sushi.  My thighs and arms were still sore from a class I took at the gym the previous day after a prolonged absence while nursing my injured shoulder.  It was good to get back to working out, but my aching muscles reminded me with every step that I just might have overdone it.  I thought walking outdoors would actually loosen things up, so I decided on a long-ish loop of about two miles and set off to enjoy the gorgeous Southern California fall day.

At about the one-mile mark, Sushi stepped on a patch of grass and suddenly hopped up with a yelp.  He then tried to lick his left front paw, as if to get a thorn or debris out, so I reached down to help.  I didn’t feel anything, he eventually gave up and, after a few stutter steps, proceeded with his walk.  Onward.

After about another quarter of a mile, he suddenly sat down and began to retch.  Out came his breakfast.  I was engrossed in some podcast in my ear buds and didn’t think much of it except that maybe something didn’t quite agree with his tummy.

“Are you okay, Sushi?” I asked, as if he would answer me.  I let him have a few moments to recover.

But when he threw up again a few steps later then sat down right on top of his vomit, I began to think that something was wrong.  I turned off the podcast and pulled my ear buds out.  He then put his chin down on the ground.

When Sushi’s eyelids began to droop, I finally began to sense panic.  I quickly reached down to our 19-pounder.  Good thing he was light.

When I picked up our white poodle-maltese mix, he folded over my arms and hung like a rag doll.  This is not right! And I began to run.  A very long three-quarters of a mile back home.

My left shoulder still hurt from my injury, as did my over-exerted biceps.  My thighs ached, and I probably was moving like a cowboy.  Now, really?  But no matter — I had to get this dog to the vet!  He hung limply in my arms as I hurried a couple of more blocks.  I felt his life slipping out of him, and I tried to slap his cheeks to see if he would wake up.  His eyes were opened but looked vacant.

“Stay with me, Sushi,” I cried, as I neared the final stretch.

That’s when I noticed that he was starting to come to.  He became less limp, and he began to look around.  By the time we got home, he was weak but awake.  I put him down gingerly in my car and drove over to the vet.

They immediately gave him an antihistamine injection, and the doctor explained that he had suffered from anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction to an insect bite, most likely a bee.  That’s when I recalled him stepping on something shortly before the collapse.

“That was probably a bee!” I said, and the vet agreed.

“He’s lucky,” she said.  “Most dogs don’t come back on their own.”

After being observed the rest of the day, Sushi came home with a week’s worth of meds to keep him from any further allergic reactions.  He’s totally okay now, and I’m now one level wiser as a dog owner.  I guess I’ll always keep some Benadryl handy.

My whole family appreciates Sushi a little more after what we’ve been through.  We didn’t realize how important he was until we almost lost him.  We’re just glad that he’s still with us!

* * * *

Have you ever experienced pet drama like mine?  Tell me about it!

Why I Canceled a Magazine Subscription for My Preteen Girl

I canceled a subscription today for a magazine which was sent to my 12-year old daughter, because I felt the content was way too inappropriate for someone her age.  Did I overreact? I don’t think so.

I didn’t realize that an online purchase for my daughter Meg at a beauty supply site came with a free subscription to this magazine.  It’s supposed to be a magazine about women’s health and well-being, topics which I am personally interested in.  Mail was delivered mid-morning while my kids were at school, so I sat down with a cup of tea and began flipping through the pages.  Although I had seen this magazine on the grocery store newsstands before, I had never really taken a look inside.  I sort of wanted to survey it and make sure it was appropriate for my daughter.  Good thing.

Most of the magazine is about fitness, food, and fashion with lots of glossy photos and ads.  Knowing my daughter, I thought she might actually enjoy reading it.  But then I stumbled upon some articles about a topic much more intimate.  Way more intimate than I want for my preteen girl.  Now, I’ve been married for over 20 years and am not embarrassed about the topic itself, as I believe this intimacy is a beautiful gift from God which he designed for married couples.  However, it was the gory details this article went into which surprised me.  For a minute, I thought I was looking at a how-to manual for, you know, the wedding night.  There were a few more similar articles tucked in the middle of the magazine between fall fashion and Holiday treats.

I realize that this magazine is for grownups and not really meant for teeny boppers like Meg.  For that, she should go to Tiger Beat.  The beauty supply site was assuming that anyone ordering online with a credit card is an adult, so it was my fault that I didn’t catch that free subscription offer earlier.  But what concerns me is that this type of magazine is readily available for anyone at the newsstands.  It’s not exactly wrapped in brown paper packaging either.  Why should a 12-year old — or any child, for that matter — be exposed to such intimate details? In a health magazine?

Once I became a mom, I began to look at the world differently.  It’s probably that mama bear instinct in me that causes me to want to protect my kids from the big, bad world.  Stuff like what I saw in that magazine is all around us — TV, internet, movies, jokes, songs.  I realize I can’t shield them from those things forever, but I sure wish that their childhood can be G-rated as long they are kids.  Meanwhile, I am trying to teach my kids discernment so that, in due time, they will be able to navigate themselves successfully in this world which is so often R- or even X-rated in many ways.

For starters, I’m working through this verse from Philippians with Meg:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

I hope that Meg will spend time dwelling on pure and lovely thoughts as she continues on her journey through life. And I will do my darnest to help her along the way, even if it means canceling some magazine subscription that she would otherwise have enjoyed.

* * * *

What do you do to help your teens and preteens best navigate their adolescent years?  Share with us in the comments!